School Choice & Charters

Hutterite History

March 08, 2000 1 min read

Hutterites have lived in the United States since 1874, but they are unknown to most Americans.

Like all Hutterite children, Juanita Waldner maintains a tie to her people’s past by attending “German school” for two hours a days in addition to “English school.”

—Benjamin Tice Smith

Like the Amish and Mennonites, they are descendants of 16th-century Anabaptists, Christians who were considered heretics by the Roman Catholic Church because they believed people should be baptized as adults rather than as infants.

Hutterites are named after Jakob Hutter, an early leader in Austria and then Moravia who was burned at the stake in 1536. They migrated throughout Eastern Europe, moving to avoid persecution or military service, which they opposed. Immediately before settling in South Dakota, they were living in the Ukraine.

From the 400 Hutterites who first arrived in South Dakota, the group has grown to an estimated 37,000 people in Montana, Washington state, the Dakotas, Minnesota, and western Canada. About one-third live in the United States.

—Mary Ann Zehr

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A version of this article appeared in the March 08, 2000 edition of Education Week as Hutterite History

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